The Contact 5 Investigators were recognized Saturday night with a regional Emmy for its investigative series,
"Line of Fire," an unprecedented probe which found disturbing patterns with shootings involving Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies.
The Suncoast Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences recognized Investigative Reporter Katie LaGrone, Investigative Producer Niels Heimeriks and Executive Producer Dawn Clapperton in the category, "Best Investigative Report - Series." Award winning photographer and editor Jim Sitton also worked on the series.
"We are honored to be recognized by such a distinguished group of journalists," said Contact 5 Investigator Katie LaGrone. "This award is not just a nod to our investigative team but also the station behind us. WPTV is committed to producing important, high-impact investigative reports regardless of whether the topic scores high on the popularity charts, " she said.
The series, which analyzed 15 years' worth of deputy-involved shootings, found Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputies disproportionately shoot young, unarmed black men and rarely find deputies at fault in shootings. Since 2000, of the 123 shootings involving a PBSO deputy, the agency determined 12 to be an unjustified use of force. In addition, nearly every deputy involved in a shooting since 2000 has been cleared. The investigation, which was a joint partnership with The Palm Beach Post, found PBSO's Internal Affairs reviews of these shootings are often incomplete and ignore or skew evidence in favor of the deputy.
Before the joint series went public, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw updated the agency's use of force policies and procedures by mandating every deputy who pulls a gun on someone must file a report detailing why. The change was the result of questions posed to the sheriff as part of our reports.
Shortly after the debut of the series, Sheriff Bradshaw announced the FBI was reviewing one of the shootings highlighted in the series. In addition, Sheriff Bradshaw also announced plans to create regional leadership committees to help improve transparency and trust with law enforcement. Finally, Sheriff Bradshaw recently hired a Washington, D.C.-based independent police research firm to conduct a $100,000 taxpayer-funded review of the agency's Internal Affairs Department. The Police Executive Research Forum is still conducting that review.
In addition to the investigative win, WPTV multimedia journalist Brian Entin, along with Executive Producer Dawn Clapperton, won an Emmy in the Crime Reporting category for the story "A Penny Lost, A Penny Found," which tells the story of how a forensic artist at the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office turns the skulls of the deceased into reconstructions of what the people looked like.